Anime, Shows

Fruits Basket Season 2 Is Better Than Season 1

Anime Review:

Fruits Basket Season 2

Rating: 7.5 out of 10 stars

Overview

Pros

  • Wonderful animation
  • Beautiful style
  • Tohru is a sweet and likable protagonist who we can really root for
  • Accurate depiction of panic attacks
  • Introduction of plenty of interesting characters who become increasingly important

Cons

  • Far too overdramatic at times
  • Some “tell” instead of “show” moments

Warning: Some Spoilers Ahead!

Review

Fruits Basket is an anime that follows the life of Tohru Honda, a high schooler who becomes privy to the secret of the Sohma family. Their secret is that they each become a different zodiac animal when hugged by a member of the opposite sex. Tohru ends up living with three of the Sohmas: Yuki, Kyo, and Shigure.

In this season, I found myself increasingly frustrated with Kyo and Yuki for hating each other. I mean, yeesh. They are both good people with massive internal struggles. They should be able to relate to each other and be good friends. Not really a con, just kind of sad.

Yuki is dealing with all sorts of insecurities and his past trauma, mostly caused by Akito. Kyo is facing the fact that he will be confined forever after graduation if he does not defeat Yuki. I admit, I like Kyo much better than Yuki, since Yuki can be annoying. But having Yuki’s backstory allows me to forgive him for being so self-centered in the present.

In the first episode, we meet Machi and Manabe, new members of the student council. Machi is a girl who breaks things frequently on purpose–this is explained later. Manabe is a laidback guy who makes fun of Yuki. Yuki is not used to being teased, so his reactions are pretty funny. I found some of the student council stuff boring, but overall it added a lot to the story.

Tohru and the Sohmas deal with ordinary school stuff like figuring out career plans and parent-teacher meetings in addition to their more serious problems.

Yuki and Ayame

I absolutely love Ayame, the zodiac snake. He is funny and quirky, and loves his brother Yuki. Even though Yuki is embarrassed by Ayame, they are able to find some common ground. His constant flirting with Shigure is a source of comedy.

Arisa finds a love interest. His name is Kureno and he is 26 years old, which to me seemed like a significant age gap for sure since Arisa is still finishing up high school. I get why he had to be that old due to his relationship to Akito, but I don’t see why he had to be a love interest for Arisa. I thought it was interesting that one of the reasons Arisa likes him so much is because he reminds her of Tohru.

One of the best things about this season is that it amps up the tension and drama. Hatsuharu is dumped by his girlfriend Rin (Isuzu Sohma). Akito is a lingering threat who becomes more dangerous as they get increasingly involved with the lives of the other Sohmas. The curse of the Sohmas is revealed to be a strong bond between Akito and the other Sohmas that links them together, more a chain than a bond. The curse causes them to become their zodiac animals at inopportune moments and to be able to live their lives to the fullest.

The drama can be too much at times, such as when Arisa loses her temper at Kureno for calling grocery shopping trivial. It just seems unrealistic sometimes.

Rin has realistic panic attacks, which is good considering that this anime handled serious issues so poorly in the first season.

The Cinderella play that the class puts on is hilarious, with Yuki as the fairy godmother, Tohru as an evil stepsister, Kyo as the prince, etc. The parts they play do not fit them well and it is honestly hilarious. Arisa essentially confesses her love to Kureno during the play. The whole thing is a mess, but it’s a funny mess.

The animation and art style are completely beautiful–it is certainly a pretty anime.

I would recommend this anime even for those who did not love season 1, because it is a major improvement over the first season.

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Anime, Shows

Ouran High School Host Club Season 1 is Fun But Has Serious Flaws

Anime Review:

Ouran High School Host Club Season 1

Rating: 6 out of 10 stars

Overview

Pros

  • A relatable and interesting main character
  • The main character seems like she is good with all pronouns and the show handles that well
  • Entertaining supporting characters
  • Unique concept

Cons

  • Uses the T-slur
  • Has bad representation for lesbians
  • The incestuous love act between the twins goes a bit far at times
  • The banana peel tripping people was WAY overdone
  • Awful Wonderland episode

Warning: Spoilers Below!

Review and Reflection

Haruhi Fujioka gets into a prodigious high school on a scholarship. Ouran High School is mainly attended by the wealthy, so she is out of place. While there, when she tries to find a quiet spot, she stumbles upon a music room where the school’s host club meets. The host club is made up of a bunch of teenage boys who entertain girls for fun and profit. Haruhi accidentally breaks an expensive vase the boys were going to auction off for funds for the club, and since she cannot pay for it, is considered to be in debt. She can only pay off the debt by working as a host for the club. The other hosts don’t initially realize Haruhi is a girl because of her short hair and generally androgynous appearance, but have figured it out by the end of the first episode. Haruhi can only pay off her debt if she pretends to be a boy and works as a host. The rest of the season follows the antics of the host club, playing off common tropes to add to the humor.

Haruhi doesn’t care much which pronouns are used to describe her, and has no problem with pretending to be a boy. She is upfront, brave, and smart. She has varying relationships with each of the other members of the host club.

Tamaki Suoh is the “prince” of the club, the official leader. He always wants to help others out and oddly refers to himself as Haruhi’s father, even though he most certainly is not.

Kyoya Ootori is an intelligent, occasionally heartless and calculating teen. He is the third son of a rich businessman, and due to this position in his family order, he has no chance of inheriting the family company. Understandably, he resents this.

Hikaru and Kaoru Hitachiin are twins who are known for their fake incestuous love act. They have a lot in common and like to confuse others by pretending to be each other. Only Haruhi can continually tell them apart. Despite trying to trick people, they want to be individually known and to be regarded as separate people with separate personalities.

Honey Haninozuka is the typical lolita boy with a twist–he’s actually quite skilled at martial arts. He has a huge sweet tooth, even to the point where it is obviously unhealthy. He adores cute things such as his stuffed bunny.

Mori Morinozuka is simply the strong, silent type.

The characters are what drive this anime and make it entertaining. The concept, however, is very interesting as well, since I have never seen an anime that used the idea of a host club before. The story creates a lot of fun humor by introducing a bunch of wealthy kids to what the “commoners” live like: for example, it is hilarious when the host club is introduced to instant coffee. A lot of enjoyment is created by playing these character’s divergent personalities against each other.

There are several instances where the show dealt with serious topics poorly. Haruhi’s dad dresses in a feminine style, but still identifies as a cis man. He is introduced as a trans character despite that, but the portrayal is not accurate. He does do drag. There is another character that is introduced as trans who may actually be trans, but they were barely in the anime, so it is hard to know if they would have accurate representation. Unfortunately, the t-slur is used for both of them, which is terrible.

There are lesbians in this anime, which could have been good rep, but they all have horrible personalities and harass Haruhi. Kyoya also harasses Haruhi by threatening to rape her. Even though he is not seriously going to do that and Haruhi knows that, it is still super creepy and wrong.

There is an episode where some men on the beach threaten some girls, and Haruhi steps in to defend them. In the process, she gets knocked out and almost drowns. Tamaki is furious at her, because he doesn’t see her actions as befitting a girl, and he thinks she needs to know her limitations. His reaction is over-the-top and problematic, even though he is doing it because he cares about her.

Even though it becomes obvious that Hikaru and Kaoru are only acting like they are in love with each other, at times it is over the top and borderline incestuous. They talk about playing punishment games together and are very touchy….sometimes it’s funny and sometimes it’s not.

The banana peel trick the creators keep throwing in was only funny the first time, and that was only because the circumstances were somewhat explained. It was far-fetched yet slightly plausible. Later on it made no semblance of sense.

Finally, the wonderland episode just plain sucked. I might be a bit biased there because I hate the wonderland theme in general, but man…I hated it. Kyoya was the caterpillar and the twins were the Cheshire cat…it was just a mess.

Overall, the anime was fun but had the several key flaws mentioned above, preventing it from a high rating. I would recommend it for fans of romance and comedy anime.

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Movies

A Movie About A Girl Struck by a Star

Spoiler-Free Movie Review:

Starstruck

Rating: 5 out of 10 stars

Intro

Last semester, my friends and I decided to watch each other’s childhood movies. This was a movie two of my friends had watched, but it was new to me. Even though the movie failed to win my admiration, I still enjoyed the experience of watching it with them.

Background

Starstruck is a rom-com and Disney Channel Original Movie released in 2010. It stars Sterling Knight, Danielle Campbell, Brandon Mychal Smith, Maggie Castle, and Chelsea Staub.

Starstruck is available on Disney+.

Summary

Michigan teen Jessica Olson visits her widowed grandmother in Hollywood, California. Her celebrity-obsessed sister Sarah convinces her to go to a nightclub where Sarah hopes to meet teen idol Christopher Wilde. When Christopher attempts to make a quick escape from the crowds after his performance, he accidentally hits Jessica with a door, and voila! The real story begins.

Pros

  • Catchy songs
  • Acting by Sterling Knight and Brandon Mychal Smith is decent
  • Beautiful scenery
  • Some character growth
  • Sweet, understanding grandma who really understands the protagonist
  • Wholesome, loving relationship between grandmother and boyfriend
  • Strong message
  • A fitting title

Cons

  • The female lead is hard to like
  • The movie star male lead is spoiled and occasionally a thoughtless jerk
  • Acting by most of the characters is not very good
  • Predictable
  • One picture taken from an impossible angle (they are looking down at the camera but it is taking a picture of them from above
  • Paparazzi used as a plot device, but only appear when they are needed to move the plot forward
  • How do their clothes manage to be so clean after the amount of mud and dirty creek water they slosh through

Review

Characters

First, I would like to say that I do sympathize with Jessica Olson’s lack of interest in celebrities. Personally, I rarely pay any attention to the lives of celebrities: their marriages, pregnancies, divorces, scandals and all that stuff have no bearing on my life and cannot hold my interest.

Jessica is only interested in those she can have an in-depth, personal relationship with and I admire that. That’s just about the only thing I admire about her because she is otherwise a bratty, annoying teenager who evidences only some growth as a person (shown in the comments she makes to paparazzi).

Her personality is so flat that the Starstruck Fandom has only Christopher Wilde in her list of “likes” and once again only includes Christopher Wilde in her list of “dislikes.”

Christopher Wilde is spoiled, naïve, and behaves like a jerk in a memorable incident during the movie. To be fair, his life has been in many ways unhealthy. His parents are his employees and plan out his life based on what options are most lucrative. Paparazzi invade his private life and ruin his ability to have fun like a normal teenager. His friendships are limited in the beginning of the movie to employees, and while that friendship seems sincere, it is not a good sign to only have friends you have to pay.

Sarah Olson, Jessica’s older sister, is mostly bland and annoying, obsessed with Christopher Wilde. She shows a little bit of unexpected kindness toward the end but is otherwise shallow.

Albert Joshua “Stubby” Stubbins is Christopher Wilde’s best friend who also happens to be his driver. Honestly, I wish we saw more of him because he is a fun character with convictions.

The grandmother of Jessica and Sarah has a touchingly close relationship with Jessica, and her grandmother is able to understand her even when the other members of her family don’t. Her grandmother has a sweet relationship with her boyfriend, and it was nice to see the cute elderly couple just living life together contentedly in the midst of all the drama in the movie.

Music

The first song isn’t amazing, but after that the rest are pretty catchy. My favorite is Something About the Sunshine. It’s catchy and just fits the mood of the movie so well. I found one music video that has the lyrics but no spoilers. I know it’s not the best, but most of them have spoilers, unfortunately.

Acting

The acting is…passable. Nothing amazing, nothing too cringy. A scene with crying is unconvincing, and Sarah’s obsessive fangirliness seems fake and a little too over-the-top.

Plot

Predictable. A couple things were unexpected, but we all know how this movie ends. I’m not going to say it, even though it barely constitutes a spoiler, but the whole thing is cheesy and obvious and you should probably know that going in. It doesn’t make it a bad movie, but it makes it an average one.

Scenery

The scenery is beautiful, whether its the beach, the cityscape, or the path less traveled they go on to avoid the paparazzi.

Mistakes

The main mistake I really noticed was that one of the photographs in the movie is shown from an impossible angle based on the way they were holding the camera.

They also got really muddy at one point, and after swimming in a creek, they were perfectly, immaculately clean. I wish stains came out that easily, but no.

Message

This movie could serve as a warning to those who idolize child celebrities to not take it to a creepy and inhumane level by prying into their private lives. It points out the problem with magazines and shows that capitalize on scandal and ruin celebrities lives. It also offers a peek into the life of a child celebrity and the unique problems and struggles they face. This is a kind of an interesting route for Disney to take considering how many teen stars they use, and surprisingly insightful.

Title

Ah, I get it. It’s Starstruck because clumsy star Christopher Wilde strikes Jessica Olson in the face…with a door…repeatedly.

Or maybe it’s because the TV show Christopher Wilde was performing on was called “Starstruck.”

Or it could be because the word “starstruck” comes up in the lyrics of the first song he sings, and is in fact the name of that song.

For whatever reason it was chosen, I feel that it was a fitting choice.

Conclusion

If you are a fan of Disney, you may like this. If you are a fan of Disney Channel Original movies, you almost certainly will like it. Otherwise, it’s probably a waste of your time.

I want to point out that my rating of 5 out of 10 stars does not mean that it was a bad movie. It just means it was an average movie–that there was nothing that made it terrible or great.

The best audience for this movie would be preteens and teens.

Rating System

If you are interested in how I rate movies, check out my rating system.

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Anime, Shows

A Rom-Com About the Trials of a Manga Writer

Spoiler-Free Anime Review:

Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-Kun Season 1 and Bonus Footage

Rating: 8 out of 10 stars

Intro

I was first introduced to this show when I accidentally came downstairs in the middle of an episode my sisters were watching. I was intrigued by what I saw. When they later asked if I wanted to give it a try, I was all for it. I enjoyed the anime so much that I ended up re-watching it with a college friend too.

Background

Also known as Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-Kun, this anime series is based on a manga series written and illustrated by Izumi Tsubaki.

Season 1 was released in 2014. There is no complete Season 2, but there is bonus content that amounts to about the length of one episode.

Monthly Girls’ Nozaki Kun is available to watch on Netflix and CrunchyRoll.

Summary

A high school student named Chiyo Sakura confesses her love to her schoolmate Umetaro Nozaki, but he mistakes her for one of his fans and she ends up with his autograph. Chiyo finds out Nozaki writes girls’ romance manga and becomes one of his assistants.

Pros

  • Well-developed thematic intro
  • Great music
  • Creative characters
  • Range of characters’ expressions entertaining
  • Changing backgrounds to convey mood
  • Beautiful animation with great attention to detail
  • Humorous dialogue
  • Pokes fun at rom-coms in general and shoujo manga in particular
  • Hilariously awkward relationships
  • Fitting ending

Cons

  • Uncomfortably violent relationship between two characters
  • Repetitive themes that can get a little annoying

Review

Intro

The intro is one of my favorites. Like in the picture shown above, it shows the characters transposed against comic-style panels. This is perfect because it is an anime about writing manga, to some extent.

The part where all the characters are beating up on the Tanuki doll is funny too considering how their dislike of Tanuki comes up in the story.

Music

I love all the music of Monthly Girls’ Nozaki Kun. It’s quirky, just like the show. Music adds to the humor throughout the show. My favorite song definitely is the one in the intro though.

Characters

Umetaro Nozaki is a teenager who is oblivious to love in his everyday life but is able to write characters who are in love with precision and skill. He thinks Chiyo just wants to help him with his manga, and even though that’s true to an extent, he is incapable of recognizing Chiyo’s love for him.

Chiyo Sakura has a major crush on Nozaki, and I mean major. She is sweet, helpful, and persistent. The flirt Mikoshiba doesn’t bother being flirtatious with her, probably because they become good friends and she sees right through him.

Mikoshiba Mikoto is basically the handsome flirt of the show, but he is quirky too. After saying something flirtatious, he becomes extremely embarrassed. He frequently tries to get his friends to help him out of unfortunate situations his flirting gets him into, and is surprisingly socially inept.

Yu Kashima is nicknamed “The Prince” because of her princely behavior around guys. She is more popular than Mikoshiba even. I think that her crush on Hori is unfortunate because of the brutal way he treats her though.

There are plenty of other colorful characters, but you’ll have to watch the show to get to know them!

Mood

Backgrounds show how characters are feeling and exaggerate that emotion.

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Character expressions are an added element, and they have a wide range of them.

Animation

The animation is beautiful and well-executed. No complaints here.

The level of detail is astonishing. The fact that they went to the trouble of making a bin of pens look like an actual artist used them is phenomenal. The different types of pens with the sizes and everything is so amazing. It looks kind of like the box of pens I use with my Copic markers.

Humor

Dialogue is one way that humor comes across in Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-Kun. Here are two lines, both from Nozaki himself, that show what you can expect from the show.

Critics have called me the spokesman for girls everywhere.”

You couldn’t have a character more oblivious to the feelings of girls around him, and yet critics laud his ability to understand girls.

In another instance, when Nozaki is questioned about what he and his friends do, he tries to hide the fact they are working on girls’ manga by saying:

We like to meet at my apartment for unspecified activities.”

All the people you can ship in this anime have the most awkward relationships possible. I mean, look at this:

I don’t even have to explain who these characters are–you can tell that they are shippable in the most awkward way possible.

Nozaki holding the umbrella for Chiyo is the worst. I mean, poor girl. But reverse their roles and it’s not much better:

This is also a way that the anime pokes fun at romances. Walking home together under one umbrella is such a cheesy, cliché thing. By making it not work at all, they maximize the humor in a satirical way.

The also makes fun of how in shoujo manga alcohol has to be replaced by juice and cigarettes have to be replaced with lollipops.

Ending

The ending may not be satisfying to many, but I would say it fits the theme of the show well.

Problematic Relationship

I don’t like the relationship between Kashima and Hori because he beats her up and it is meant to be comedic but it’s really just…uncomfortable.

Repetitiveness

Chiyo’s continued hopes that Nozaki understands her love for her are continually squashed by Nozaki’s oblivious. Does it get old? Well, kind of…but there is so much more to the show and it’s really humorous anyway.

Bonus Footage

The Bonus Footage is not as good as the episodes of Season 1, but they were still worth watching. There are hilarious parts to them as well.

Conclusion

If you like lighthearted rom-coms, I would recommend this anime.

It is rated PG and I think that’s a fair rating. There is nothing in this anime I would be worried about children seeing.

Rating System

If you are interested in how I rate shows, check out my rating system.

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